My relationship with public transportation goes all the way back to my first days in the working world, as a fresh out of college twenty-two year old. Thanks to WMATA, all it took was one bus and one train ride to get into the Washington, DC, neighborhood where I worked.
Back then, in my pre-children life, that hour and a half was "me time," and I filled it mostly with novels and crossword puzzles. All was good.
Years passed and my work situation changed. I began taking the University of Maryland shuttle bus to get onto campus each day, but I was still a young newlywed who traveled solo, reading or dozing away the bus rides.
Then I got pregnant.
Wow, what a difference it makes to take public transportation while gestating. Okay, maybe not for the beginning of the pregnancy, but once I got significantly into the forty weeks, bus rides began to be even less comfortable than before.
I was faced with a new dilemma on the ultra-busy days. Where it was easy to stand for a ride before, now it was increasingly challenging to attempt such a thing. But attempt it I did have to at times, because unbelievable as it was to me, there were occasions in which no one offered a gigantic pregnant woman his or her seat.
Thankfully, pregnancies don't last forever, and I was back to traveling by myself again, perhaps with a more keen eye on my own public transportation manners. A new chapter began, though, when I needed to travel regularly with my children accompanying me. If I thought busing-while-pregnant was an adventure, I had no idea what was in store for me.
For three years, my oldest son and I took the bus together on a regular basis, and I'm back to it again with my younger two these days. Just picture it — two young children, one frazzled adult, and three bags among them, all waiting to board the bus. Doesn't it just make you want to wait for the next one?
Where my oldest son and I would sit together side by side in a two-seat row, it's a little trickier with a trio. In the mornings, it's not so much an issue to find a group of seats together, but when it's time to ride home, I'm finding it extremely stressful to jockey for a seat. At the stop on campus where we meet the bus, a large group of university commuters from Greenbelt also gather, and the scene that happens in a split second when the bus approaches makes my heart race.
In the last two weeks, I've had people bump the children with bags with nary a look back or rush around us to get to the bus doors first. On one afternoon that brought my blood pressure to dangerous levels, we spent an entire ride home with both children and I standing because not one rider thought it appropriate to offer up a seat. You know, the adults clearly needed the comfort and security of that seat more than a 3 or a 5-year old.
Yeah, I'm still angry about it days later. I was so shocked and frustrated that I couldn't even form words appropriate for public broadcast to ask someone point blank for a seat. I met the eye of several folks, some even casting those aren't-they-so-cute looks in the direction of my children, with a raised eyebrow.
But my attention was primarily needed by my children who were attempting to stand and hold bars that were too tall for them to reach and for keeping all of our stuff in one tight space. Unfortunately, the traffic was awful that day, and our ride lasted much longer than it should have, which gave me forty-five minutes to simply fume and lose faith in humanity.
So this is me, shamelessly using this public forum to beg you to please consider the needs of your fellow public transportation travelers. May we all be willing to sacrifice a seat, from time to time.
Dawn may reside in Greenbelt in real life, but online she lives at her blog, my thoughts exactly, where she chatters on about her funny kids, her NPR obsession and plenty of other randomness. She can also be found at 5 Minutes for Books, reviewing everything from contemporary fiction to children's literature, and at The DC Moms, surrounded by incredibly talented local writers.